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Social Psychology and Media: Critical Considerations



In this paper, we argue that media saturate everyday living, and that people engage with and are engaged by media in diverse and complex ways. We suggest a need for an informed social psychology of media that conceptualises media as social practice, and attends to media practices as they occur. We propose that much media psychology research is limited because it: (i) focuses too strongly on documenting causal, and usually negative, media effects; (ii) continues to apply unsuitable research methodologies and theories to investigating media and ignores advances in media research and theory arising outside the discipline; and (iii) largely ignores the social contexts in which media engagements occur. These arguments are illustrated by studies that take a more social and critical approach to media research and that show possibilities for overcoming these limitations and developing insights into psychological concerns enmeshed in media practices.